Our Family

Our Family

Monday, August 22, 2016

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar

Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar Review
Over the last several weeks, the girls and I have been reviewing Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar, from jollyliteracy.com and just2ducks LLC.  We received: 

Jolly Phonics Teacher's Book in print letters
Jolly Phonics Student Books 1,2, and 3
Jolly Grammar 1 Teacher's Book in print letters
Jolly Grammar 1 Student Book
Jolly Songs in print letters

Jolly Phonics is a multisensory program to teach children letter sounds, letter formation, blending, segmenting, and tricky words.  Children are taught 42 main letter sounds and a corresponding action for each sound.  The sounds are not taught in alphabetic order, but split into 7 different groups to allow children to start forming words and reading faster.  The groups are:

1, s,a,t,i,p,n
3. g,o,u,l,f,b
4. ai,j,oa,ie,ee,or
5. z,w,ng,v, oo, oo
6. y,x,ch,sh, th, th
7. qu,ou,oi,er, ar

The Jolly Phonics Teacher's Book in print letters is a paperback 184 page book.  The first part of the book (the yellow section) is an introduction to Jolly Phonics and the Jolly Phonics teaching method. The second part of the book gives structured lesson plans for each day's lesson.  The pages are color coordinated to match the corresponding student book.  The lessons in each book follow the same basic format.  

The student books are also paperback and around 50 pages each.  The books are in full color. In Book 1, each letter sound is introduced with a story and a motion.  Students practice letter formation by writing that day's letter and reviewing previous letters.  Students practice blending the sounds.  There is also a sound discrimination activity that students cross out the word that does not have the sound. Words are dictated to the student and they hold up a finger for each sound that they hear. A list of further ideas for practicing the sound is also given.  In Book 2 alternate spellings for different sounds are taught, students write words that are dictated and continue to practice handwriting.  They learn tricky words, start writing sentences, and do a variety of activities to reinforce what they are learning. In Book 3 students continue to work on alternate spellings and tricky words.  They start to write sentences from dictation, have comprehension activities to complete, and continue writing more words and sentences.  Students complete one page per day and will complete all three books in one school year.

Jolly Songs in print letters is a book and CD.  The book is a paperback and in full color and is 24 pages long.  It has a picture, words, and motions to all the songs on the CD.  There are 42 short tracks on the CD to go along with the sound lessons in the first Jolly Phonics book.

The Jolly Grammar 1 Teacher's Book is 104 page paperback book.  It is similar in set up to the phonics book, except that there are separate Teacher's Books for each grammar level.  Jolly Grammar Book 1 starts with an introduction and then teaching ideas for grammar and spelling.  The next section is the teaching instruction for each day's lessons.  There is a total of 36 weeks worth of lessons.

The Jolly Grammar 1 Student Book is a full color, paperback, 79 page book.  There are 2 pages for each lesson.  The first page has a spelling focus and contains the word bank, a place to write and illustrate words using the featured digraph, and lines to write the word and phrases the teacher dictates.  The second page has a grammar activity.  The back of the book has pages for the student to write their spelling words for a weekly test.

I have been using Jolly Phonics with my 5 year old daughter, and Jolly Grammar with my 7 year old daughter.  I started Emmie in the very beginning of the first phonics book. They really like the workbooks and the activities in them.  The lessons are short.  The order that the letter sounds are taught in get children blending letter and reading quickly.  The activities are age appropriate and you can move through the program at your child's pace.  Children have plenty of opportunity to color, draw, and illustrate their lessons.  The lessons are scripted for you but you can adapt to fit them to your needs.

Rather then having Lily write her spelling test in the back of the book, I had her use the Can Do Cubes also from jollyliteracy.com and an upcoming review.  She liked building the words much better then writing them.  The spelling lists were different from anything I have used before.  Rather then having the whole list focus on a specific spelling rule or digraph, their lists have a variety of words.  5 of the 10 words feature the spelling of the week, words one and two are regular 2-3 letter words, word 3 features a consonant blend, and words 8 and 9 are tricky words.  It makes it seem a bit random and even Lily commented on it, but it is something we can work with because she is enjoying the rest of the program so much.  The grammar activities have been wonderful ways for her to learn basic grammar.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Our Week in Review (August 15th-21st)

It has been raining here in Arkansas.  We have not been flooded like some places, but it has rained every day for the last week, which is very unusual for us. I have never seen this much rain in August in all the years we have lived here.

The local public schools went back to school this week, we did not! Our week started with a mom's night out for me!  That never happens.  Our homeschool group is not holding formal meetings this year but trying to do a get together once a month for the moms at a local restaurant.  It was nice to be able to sit and chat with some ladies about homeschooling and curriculum.

Wednesday we headed back to Texarkana to the dentist. Lillian got her cavities fixed and then I took the children to Chuck E. Cheese.  I usually do not go there in the summer and thought with school starting back it wouldn't be very busy, but Texas had not started back! Did you know they don't have tokens anymore?  I didn't.  They now have little cards with points that the children use to play games. I wasn't that impressed with the change.  I think tokens were better, but they had a good time.

After we were done and Lily's face was no longer numb we ran through a drive though for lunch and made the long drove home.

I got a fun review this week called Pottery Cool for the girls.  It has come in handy during the rainiest parts of the day.  The girls have made two projects so far.

We did do a little school work this week.

Lily and Emmie continued their Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar workbooks.

We did 3 lessons of VeritasBible.com on Saul the First King of Israel.

We finished Lesson 2 of Apologia Astronomy.

We did two lessons in Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids and finished module 4 of WAY Comes Home on Nutrition.

Next week we are taking off from all school work and the following Monday will be the first day of the new school year.

I hope you had a great week!

Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Enlivenze LLC

FlipStir Puzzles Reviews
Enlivenze LLC creates products to engage our minds and challenge our brains.  We have been having loads of fun with our latest product for review, the Solar System FlipStir Puzzle. 
FlipStir Puzzles Reviews
FlipStir Puzzles are not your typical puzzle.  The puzzle is in a container and you have to use gravity, the wand inside, and your brain to figure out how to manipulate the pieces and solve the puzzle. These puzzles are for ages 7 and up. There are two different levels, Level One and Level Two.  Each puzzle has 10 pieces but the Level One pieces have flat edges while the Level Two pieces have wavy edges.  FlipStir puzzles can be purchased for $24.95 and are made in the USA.

I saw these puzzles on our upcoming vendor list and I knew my children would be excited to have an opportunity to review them.  We have just started studying astronomy so the Solar System FlipStir puzzle has been a perfect complement.  It is a Level Two puzzle. 

When I first took the puzzle out of the box the children said it would be impossible to be able to get the puzzle together.  How can you do a puzzle when you can't move the pieces with your hands?  But when I gave it to my 10 year old, he disappeared with it and less then 15 minutes later had solved the puzzle.
Next my 9 year old had to try.  He too solved it in around 15 minutes.  Not bad for a first try!

I of course had to try it out too.  It took me much longer then it took them.  But, I got it!  I had started trying to put the first piece at the bottom but it wasn't going in the way I wanted it to.  Starting with the top made it easier for me to fit the pieces together. My boys told me they were proud of me, and they knew I could do it.  Funny boys!

My 7 year old was unable to solve the puzzle.  She gets easily frustrated and when she could not complete it as easily as her brothers, she gave up.  I think as she gets a little older she will be willing to try again.

The biggest benefit of these puzzles is that they are so portable.  You can take them in the car, in a doctor's office, or any place your child may need to sit and wait patiently.  The pieces won't ever get lost. You can complete the puzzle over and over again. It does take a little while to figure out how to manipulate the pieces effectively but once you do they all fall into place.  

There are two different Level One puzzles to choose from: Rainbow and Tyrannosaurus Rex.  There are three different Level Two puzzles: Solar System, Statue of Liberty, and the Periodic Table of Elements.  Members of the Crew reviewed all of the different choices, to see what my Crew Mates had to say stop by the Crew Blog!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids

Beginner Spanish Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Review
We school year round, taking several breaks throughout the year and having a much lighter schedule in the summer.  I was excited to have Starter Set 1 from Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids as part of our summer school this year to introduce the children to Spanish.
Beginner Spanish Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Review
Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids was founded by Kit Strauss after looking for a Spanish program to teach her sons and not finding what she was looking for.  It teaches Spanish to children in a fun way using an immersion approach.  Starter Set 1 includes:

DVD with 3 different videos: Basketballs Aren't for Breakfast (Level 1), The Little Magic House Part 1(Level 2), and the Little Magic House Part 2 (Level 3)
3 Teacher's Guides, one for each level
3 Student Workbooks, one for each level
Sticker Set
Flashcards for each level
Go Squish! Card Game is also being included while supplies last

In Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids, the DVD is the in-flight movie that is being viewed as the viewer travels first from Washington D.C. to Lima Peru, then Lima Peru to Bogota Columbia, and finally Bogota to San Jose, Costa Rica.  The student workbooks are designed to look like magazines that you would find on the plane.  I thought that was such a neat concept!

The main part of the program is the DVD.  Each level stars children speaking completely in Spanish. There are visual cues throughout the DVD that allow children to see and hear the words being spoken.  The vocabulary words are used in a variety of ways to help solidify their meanings.  The conversations include common words that you would need to know to speak the language and the movies are very funny in a cheesy, kid friendly way.  There is a rapid review at the end of each video to reinforce what has been learned.
In the Teacher's Guide, you will find good information about the program and learning a foreign language.  Each lesson tells you where to stop and start the DVD, which workbook pages to complete, and other optional activities and games to do to go along with the lesson.  If you follow the lesson plans, it should take 20 weeks to complete all 3 levels.
The workbooks are in full color and have a variety of activities for the student to complete such as fill in the blanks, crosswords, matching,gust of grammar and more.  It also has information on geography and culture. Answer keys are located in the back of each workbook. They are for students around 3rd grade and up, although younger students could use them with help.
The sticker set has stickers of several of the words being learned for your children to place around the house.  The stickers are not overly sticky and peel off easily when you want to remove them.
The flashcards can be used in a variety of ways.  You can use them to drill words or to play different games, including the Go Squish! game.

I have been using Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids with my 5,7,10 and 11 year olds, following the schedule in the Teacher's Guide.  The length of the lessons vary depending on the activities but we spend around 30 minutes per lesson.

The first day we watched the DVD, I told the children we were watching something called Basketballs Aren't for Breakfast, and they didn't believe me!  I showed them the box and they were intrigued.  They loved the DVD and wanted to watch all 3 movies on the first day.  I did not let them and instead followed the lesson plan.  They are very eager to do their Spanish lessons every day.

As I said earlier, I love the concept and the way the pieces all fit together.  The children enjoy the DVD.  I like the visuals that are in the DVD.  For example the big dog wears a shirt that says "Grande", the little dog wears a shirt that says "Pequena", the books say "libros" etc . . .The lesson plans put everything in digestible chunks and there is constant review.  

I had thought that the children that would get the most out of this curriculum would be my 9 and 11 year old boys and while they have learned a lot, my 5 and 7 year old girls have really taken off with it!  I cannot believe how much they have learned and how quickly. I hear them talking in Spanish all the time, using the vocabulary they have learned so far.  

You do not need to have any kind of Spanish background in order to teach this to your children.  Everything you need is in the Teacher's Guide.  I had a few years of Spanish in high school but am not fluent in the language at all.  I am so thankful that Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids is so easy to teach and to learn!

I personally prefer physical products, but Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids offers digital subscriptions as well for those that prefer digital. You can find a free trial here.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Our Week in Review (August 8th-14th)

We did not do a whole lot of school work this week.  It was a busy week and there was a lot to do!  I am glad it is still summer and we have not started our new school year yet.

Monday the children had a dentist appointment and we were gone all day.  The actual appointment was less then 30 minutes but it is an hour and a half drive one way.  I always try to take them to do something fun while we were there, so we used our Kids Bowl Free coupons to go bowling.  2 games of bowling took almost two hours.  We also went into Hobby Lobby and got ice cream.  It was supper time by the time we got home.  We were glad that Chelsea was able to come and spend the day with us.  The bad news is that Lily had two small cavities and we have to go back on Wednesday.

Tuesday and Wednesday we did some school work.  We finished a few more lessons on VeritasBible.com, completed two lessons in Foreign Language For Kids by Kids, and did two days worth of lessons in Apologia Astronomy.  The girls did some Jolly Phonics and Grammar.  Emmie made her moon badge for My Father's World K and we learned about the phases of the moon using oreo cookies.

Nick building a model

Lily, Christian, Anthony doing an activity to learn about revolving and rotating

I am working on trying to de-clutter a bit.  I saw a de-clutter challenge on a homeschool blog to work 15 minutes a day in one area of your house.  I did a linen closet, sewing area, and started the girls closet this week (you cannot complete this task in 15 minutes!)

Thursday we did our grocery shopping and ran some quick errands.  The rest of the day was spent packing, cooking, cleaning, and loading the camper so we could head out as soon as daddy got home from work.

We headed to Jefferson Ridge Campground on Dierks Lake.  We had a great week-end!  Friday was VERY hot with heat indexes over 110.  We went to the playground in the morning while Art and Alex did some fishing and spent the rest of the morning swimming.  We headed in just before 2 and stayed in the air conditioning until 5 or so. We had some rain Friday night and Saturday morning and evening.

I seriously underestimated the amount of bottled water we would need.  I took a 35 pack and by Saturday morning we were down to 4 bottles, so Art had to run to a local store.  I forgot a few things but luckily it wasn't anything major.  They are looking forward to going on another camping trip next week.

Christian found $2 in the lake

Anna hates the water but goes wherever we go

Emmie decided she was too big to wear water wings

first time I got to fish with my pink fishing pole

Started pouring right after the food was on the grill

the girls took cover in the beach chairs

Nick and Alex fishing in the rain

I hope you had a great week!

Happy Homeschooling!